Technological determinism states that the technical advances, the media, or technology as a whole, are the key drivers in history and the main producers of social changes. The most well-known interpretations of this theory share two general ideas:
On the one hand, that the development of technology itself follows a predictable, traceable path beyond cultural or political influences.
On the other hand, that technology has “effects” on societies that are inherent, rather than socially conditioned or produced because that society is organized in order to support and further develop a technology once it has been introduced.
Instead of considering technology as a part of a broader spectrum of human activity, technological determinism states that technology is the basis of all human activity.
Technological determinism has been defined as an approach that identifies the technology or technological advances, as the fundamental causal elements in the process of social change. As a consequence, technology and its design tend to dictate the behavior of users and in this way, the action of human decreases; technology run their lives, they don’t do it anymore.
Instead of recognizing that a society or culture interacts with the technology or tries to make the most of it, a technological determinist would say that “the way we use technology is largely determined by the structure of the technology itself”.
In my opinion, it is true that sometimes changes in technology, such as the printing press or the locomotive, transform society when they appear, but they are not the only determinants of social changes. I strongly believe that what determines social changes is the use we give to this technology. We can not say that the printing press created a democracy and better types of government, but we know it helped. With it, the speed of making books increased and the world gradually became literate. As a result, we reached better ways of governing, not because the printing press achieve itself, but because the man used it in a productive way. I think that the printing press made this social change possible, because it meant that people could start to learn how to read and how to write, but it was the man who guided this phenomenon.
The steam engine was another great revolutionary invention that brought the industrial revolution. As it happened with the printing press, it generated a movement that changed the whole society, but in my opinion, it was the use that humans gave to this tool what really led to the creation of large industries, not the steam engine itself, because the only thing that the machine gave was force and power, and the human being used this in different ways until it was possible to reach this major social change that was the industrial revolution.
However, technological tools are becoming increasingly stricter, with a much more predetermined use. Thus, the different ways of using them have decreased. For example, twitter is a very useful tool, but there are some factors that limit its use, such as the restriction of using only 140 characters. It also happens with Vine, an application for recording videos, but they can only last 6 seconds. The new technological applications try to be different from the rest, but limiting its use, and this leads to humans being determined by technology.
Technological inventions have always made things easier for human beings, but we have reached a point in which we use them so often that we don’t know what to do without them. I know people that work in companies where it is impossible to make the accounting without an accounting program (Contaplus). A student nowadays finds impossible to do a task or a project without using the Internet. Mobile phones are another good example; nowadays we do not know what to do without a mobile phone, we get mad if we run out of battery, we prefer to talk to people using WhatsApp, for example, when they are not with us, instead of paying heed to them when they are in front of us. We don’t even try to find new thing, because with a click we get loads of information in our Smartphone. We are becoming slaves of the technology.
As a conclusion, I believe that technology has a great importance in how the society evolves, and I think that it definitely is a determinant of the changes, but I don’t think that the changes are fully guided by it; as I see it, the way we use this tools is what guides the changes, even though I have to admit that technologies have more power over us each day, and that we are more limited in how to use them, so it could become a serious problem in the future. As Albert Einstein said; “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”